About Avi Schaefer

Avi Schaefer, z''l, was born June 11, 1988 to Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and artist Laurie Gross. Avi was raised in a loving Jewish home in Santa Barbara, California, with his brothers Noah, Yoav, and Elisha.  At age 18, Avi and his identical twin Yoav volunteered to serve as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.  Avi served in the army for three years, first as a soldier in a special forces unit and later going on to train some of Israel's most elite units as a counter-terrorism instructor.  Upon completion of his army service, Avi returned to the United States to begin his studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In his few months at Brown Avi quickly distinguished himself as an accomplished student and a trusted voice for Israel and for peace.  Avi gracefully balanced his two passions, championing the Jewish state while simultaneously establishing deep lines of communication with students who held differing perspectives.  His life and work were tragically cut short on February 12, 2010, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while walking near campus.  In just 21 years, Avi became a living testament to the idea that one committed individual can truly make a difference.  His example leaves an indelible mark on this world in the lives of the people who knew him, and the thousands more inspired by his legacy of activism and compassion.  It is now the task of his family and friends to carry on the work he began.

Remembering Avi »

Updates From The Fund

  • Annual "Celebrate Our Growth" Open House

    Please join us on July 31 from 11 am to 2 pm at the home of the Gross Schaefers for our fifth annual "Celebrate Our Growth" open house. We look forward to seeing you there!

  • URI Hillel Welcomes All Students for Multicultural Shabbat

    "I stood by the door of the University of Rhode Island Hillel to welcome people from all cultures, religious backgrounds and denominations into our building, in fulfillment of the time-honored Jewish tradition of hakhnasat orchim, welcoming guests. The occasion was Hillel’s fifth annual Avi Schaefer Multicultural/Multifaith Shabbat, an event that brings students of different backgrounds together for an evening of dining, discussion and dancing."

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  • Innovation Grantees in the News

    "At the University of Oregon, we believe that our power to touch people in our everyday lives is more powerful than any divisive news story, hateful social media post or coward posting bigoted fliers in the night. We embrace our role in creating a warm and inclusive campus for all, including Muslim and Arab communities. This starts with fostering love, respect and community. For example, Oregon Hillel has developed a seven-part series entitled Manzil Midrash (house/study) in partnership with the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Union."

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